Dara Torres is the only swimmer in Olympic history to medal in five Olympiads. Between 1984 and 2008, the Florida-born Southern Californian has earned 12 Olympic medals over 24 years, winning her first at the age of 15, and most recent after her 41st birthday.
Torres competed in the Olympics of 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008, establishing herself as one of the most celebrated female athletes of all-time.
Though nearly eight years had passed since she retired from serious competition, and mother of a two-year old daughter, Torres surprised the swimming world with a remarkable return to the pool in 2008. The senior member and co-captain of the Beijiing U.S. swim team won three silver medals at the China Olympics: 50m Freestyle, 4x100 Medley Relay and 4x100 Freestyle Relay.
Her anchor leg in the Medley (52.27) was the fastest freestyle split in relay history. She was in the pool for the Medley Relay less than 40 minutes after taking a silver medal in the women’s 50m Freestyle. A day earlier, Dara’s Freestyle Relay silver marked the fifth time in five Olympics that she had medaled in that event. (Although Torres also qualified at the U.S. trials for the Beijing100m sprint, she relinquished her position to a teammate prior to the Olympics to concentrate on the 50m event.)
At her first Olympic Games in 1984, Torres’ U.S. team won a gold medal in the 4x100m Freestyle Relay (3:43.43). At the 1988 Games, she earned a silver medal in the 4x100m Medley Relay and bronze in the 4x100m Freestyle Relay. Voted team captain in 1992, Torres again won gold in the 4x100m Freestyle Relay, contributing to a new event world record, 3:39.46.
In 1999, after a seven-year absence from competitive swimming, Torres decided to attempt to qualify for the 2000 Olympics. She not only qualified, she captured five medals at the Sydney Games, including a pair of golds––in the 4x100m Freestyle Relay (a team World record, 3:36.61), and 4x100m Medley Relay, setting another team world record, 3:58.30. Torres also took home three individual bronze medals, one each in the 50m Freestyle, 100m Freestyle and 100m Butterfly.
In spite of her multi-year layoff, at the close of the Millennium year (2000) ended, 33-year old Torres was the World’s No. 2 100m Butterfly sprinter, and No. 3 in the 50m Freestyle.
From 1983 to 1986, she held the World’s best time in the 50m Freestyle, :25.62. In 1988, she reset the 100m Freestyle World record at :55.30.
When she was a high school junior, Dara’s family moved from Beverly Hills to Mission Viejo, California, so she could train with coach Mark Schubert. Schubert was the USA’s 2008 Olympic head swim coach.
Teenager Torres entered the University of Florida following her triumph at 1984 Games and earned 28 NCAA All-America swimming awards as an undergraduate, the maximum number of All-America honors possible. Her U.S. career record includes numerous national 50m Freestyle titles from 1982 thru the 2008 Olympic trials; as well as 100m Freestyle championships 1985-2008; and the 1991 200m Freestyle championship.
Torres was pictured in the 1994 “Swimsuit Issue” of Sports Illustrated magazine. Her pictorial marked the first time an athlete appeared in the popular annual glamour issue of the magazine.